The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has toured a number of demonstration sites under the Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) and Transformation of the African Savanna Initiative (TASI) being undertaken in the Northern part of the country as part of government’s poverty reduction strategy.
The minister, together with his entourage, paid visits to the Mion and Savelugu districts where test pilots of the two projects are currently being done.
The two projects are being funded by the African Development Bank as part of efforts by government to increase agricultural productivity in the savannah zones.
The SAPIP is a five-year project expected to cost US$39.01million. Its main focus is to increase the production of maize, soybean and livestock as a means of reducing poverty and improving nutrition among the citizenry.
The Transformation of African Savannah Initiative (TASI) is one of eight Priority Intervention Area (PIAs) of the Feed Africa Strategy that seeks to end extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition and food imports by the year 2025.
It seeks to transform 16 million hectares out of Africa’s 400 million hectares of savannah – twice the size of the Brazilian Cerrados – into a bread-basket for the production of maize, soybean, and livestock.
Both projects – SAPIP and TASI – are anchored on government’s flagship Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) and One District, One Factory policies.
An estimated 250 hectares of arable land is expected to be developed under the projects within the next five years.
The minister, who expressed satisfaction at the pace of progress on the two farms, reiterated the commitment of government to transforming the economy through agriculture.
He said a successful implementation of the projects, which he said are key to government’s PFJ programme, will serve as the economic vehicle for development of the savannah zones.
Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto particularly stressed the production of soybean, which according to him is one of the most important crops for the livestock industry.
He pointed out that a significant increase in soybean and maize production will therefore have ripple-effects on the poultry industry, stressing that it will help reduce the percentage of feed importation by farmers and thereby reduce the cost of production.
The minister has also as part of the visit to the region been inspecting ongoing renovation and completed warehouses by the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) and the Ghana Commercial Agricultural Projects (GCAP).